Sister, M.D. Shares Her Life's Journey

Sister Mary Diana Dreger, a Dominican nun and practicing physician, spoke with all CJ freshmen and sophomores as well as a select group of science students during three presentations in the library Friday morning.

In addition to living a vowed religious life with the Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Sr. Mary Diana also works a primary care provider for serving poor and underprivileged adults in her local Tennessee community; she teaches at Vanderbilt University—where she graduated from medical school in 2004—as an assistant clinical professor of medicine; and she moonlights as a guest lecturer at hospitals and schools across the country.

Her presentation at CJ on March 30 opened with a prayer and a pair of questions:

“How many of you have ever met a Sister?” Sr. Mary Diana asked, to which a room full of students responded in the affirmative.

“How many of you have ever met a Sister who is also a doctor?” she continued. The silence produced by her second inquiry highlighted feelings many likely share about the conflicting nature of science and religion. But according to Sr. Mary Diana, her unique juxtaposition enhances her ability to live out her faith each day.

The path along the way to becoming a nun, and later a doctor, in Music City was unconventional for Sr. Mary Diana. As a child, she dreamed of being a doctor, but her career began as a high school teacher in her native state of New York. After teaching biology and chemistry for seven years in the public school system, Sr. Mary Diana had a chance encounter with the members of order she now considers family.

“After meeting the Sisters, I realized that’s what God was calling me to be,” Sr. Mary Diana said. The dream of being a doctor was fulfilled just weeks after she took her final vows when her Mother Superior informed her she would be headed to medical school.

“My jaw dropped,” Sr. Mary Diana said, recalling the joy of seeing her life come full circle. Her message to CJ students encouraged the teens to try to put faith and trust in the hands of God as she did.

“For every single one of you, God wants your happiness more than you even want it. Ask the Lord to show you that happiness and ask him to show you how to go out and achieve it,” she said.

Sr. Mary Diana Dreger’s visit to Dayton concluded Friday evening as she hosted a free lecture at Wright State University titled “The Practice of Virtue in the Practice of Medicine.”

For more about Sister Mary Diana Dreger, visit >